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By Jennifer Hauschild and Allison McKenna

At its core, Design Thinking is a philosophy that seeks to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine issues to identify alternative strategies and solutions. Taking a human-centered approach, this process requires one to move away from instincts, previous experiences, and the latest trends.

This shift is accomplished through five phases that encourage participants to:

  1. Empathize.
  2. Define.
  3. Ideate.
  4. Prototype.
  5. Test.

    Despite its name, Design Thinking is a concept that can be used by anyone in any industry. For LKF, the flexibility of this process has proven to be an invaluable asset when dealing with strategic messages or market-driven challenges that lack a clear solution.

    In fact, LKF applies Design Thinking to all sorts of concept and design challenges – big and small.

    Branding Technically Specific, Culturally Diverse Services

    Creating branding for AC Insights was a bit tricky due to the nature of the services the company provides. Their specialty is fusing local knowledge and global perspectives to inform social programs, with a focus on low-tech and low-cost methods.

    Our challenge was communicating the culturally sensitive and technical services AC Insights provides. Design Thinking helped pave a path for empathizing with human experience, define the problem clearly, ideate several possible solutions, prototype designs, and test branding concepts.

    The resulting work resonated with AC Insights more deeply and quickly, allowing the LKF team to spend time honing the brand rather than running through multiple iterations.

    Keeping Ads Fresh for a Long-term Client

    Hastings, a LKF client for 26 years, is a manufacturer of hotline tools and equipment for electrical lineworkers around the globe. With a major market share in the industry due to the products’ reliability and the safety they provide, LKF felt it was important to both capitalize on past success and push for new milestones.

    When it was time for a new print ad campaign, we knew our long history with Hastings was a double-edged sword. Using Design Thinking, we were able to see the company with a fresh perspective yet still utilize our decades of history together.

    Our thoughts focused on:

    1. Who is Hastings?
    2. What do they value?
    3. How are they successful?
    4. How do they deliver safety to users?

    With lineworkers in mind, LKF gathered research and references to write pages of headlines and support copy. Utilizing Design Thinking encouraged an iterative, ideating approach that helped LKF distill concepts down to that singular message that really resonated.

    After years of working together, Hastings knew we would deliver a campaign that fit their brand, but the renewed excitement and feeling of "man, they just get us!" helped deepen our relationship with the Hastings crew. It also demonstrated that we are a holistic partner who continually listens and innovates solutions!

    A Quick-turn Website with Depth and Scalability

    As a medical device start-up and manufacturer, C2Dx needed a new website before an impending product launch. Since C2Dx was in a rush on top of being new to the LKF family, we knew we had to work quickly yet thoroughly. Design Thinking delivered with efficiency and depth.

    In less than six weeks, we developed, designed, and debuted C2Dx’s website. With a modern, clean feel that exudes confidence and focuses on healthcare professionals as its primary audience, the site is a carefully crafted showcase for the company and its products.

    Utilizing an accelerated iterative process including client feedback on almost a daily basis made the timeline and the depth of the website achievable. Design Thinking tools focused our efforts and led to the creation of a quickly built website that is responsive, meets C2Dx’s needs, scales with the addition of future products, and, most of all, was launched on time and under budget.

    Messaging Targeted to Improve Awareness, Wellness

    Specializing in medical and cosmetic varicose vein problems, Premier Vein Center (Premier) wanted to grow its business within the greater Kalamazoo area. LKF’s suggestion was to develop a series of commercials advertising Premier’s free vein screenings.

    Detailed conversations with the client about candidates for screenings – both those who were aware of their risks and symptoms of vein issues and those who may not be – spurred our team to develop three personas to help us empathize with each group.

    Design Thinking tools such as point-of-view problem statements played an important role in crafting a message that spoke to Premier’s issues as well as the age, gender, and ethnically diverse consumer base. As a result, Premier saw an increase in vein screenings and the commercials won a Gold Hermes Award and an Award of Distinction from the Communicator Awards.

    Designing Success the LKF Way

    Whether it is a new website or ad campaign or a project for a well-established client or newly acquired relationship, Design Thinking helps us get to the root of our clients’ needs. The approach also enables LKF to work more nimbly to expedite timelines, reduce budgets, and maximize results.

    Want to know more about Design Thinking? Ready to try it out on your next project? Contact us with your marketing challenges. We are eager to deliver a customized solution!

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